Commentary: Black Student Suspended for Touching Flag

A misunderstanding about the improper use of our nation’s flag is just another instance of school officials taking things too far.

Posted: 06/08/2012 02:33 PM EDT

Respect for one’s country is an understandable virtue to teach children, but one Virginia middle school took things too far when administrators suspended a 13-year-old student for allegedly using the American flag as a hand towel.

"You have a bright, gifted, young Black male; it seems to be an attempt to pour ice water on his motivation," the famliy’s attorney Wayne Scriven told WTKR-TV.

According to the school, the student, Moses Hinton, was suspended for defacing school property in accordance with its code of conduct when he wiped his hands on the American flag following a trip to the restroom. No visible damage to the flag was noted.

"A teacher observed a student who recently returned from the restroom using the American flag as a hand towel," school spokesperson Eileen Cox told WAVY-TV. She added, "The student indicated to the teacher that there were no paper towels in the restroom."

However, Hinton claims he rubbed his hand on his pants after washing his hands and he only touched the flag in an attempt to steady himself after tripping on stairs.

"I was coming up the stairs and I lost my balance and I touched the flag," Hinton said.

Although the school has an African-American principal, Hinton’s mother says this is not the first time her son has been singled out at the school. The family’s attorney says that while they will not sue for discrimination, Hinton’s mother wants the incident scrubbed for her child’s record.

"It has had an emotional impact on my son's education," Hinton's mother, Victoria, told reporters.

Whether Hinton tripped and grabbed the flag or tucked it in his shirt and used it as a bib is irrelevant. The unduly harsh punishment inflicted for the incident has taken Hinton out of school and his focus away from his education.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.


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(Photo: Thinkstock/Getty Images)

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